I don’t know if I’ll remember how deeply fulfilling this experience was for me. I hope I do.

But if I don’t – I’m just happy. Genuinely proud of myself. I feel hopeful about what the future has to offer again. There is exhaustion that has seeped in deep into my bones after spending more than 12 hours for 3 days manning the booth. I don’t think people realize how much vulnerability is needed to sell something so personal, something that started as an idea in my head that’s been completed by my hands.

I used to feel scared when I feel this way. Because what if I never feel *this* again. Or what if it’s the calm before the storm, the prelude to heartache coming my way. But that’s just life, I guess. Right now, life is at an up because of the downs that brought me here. And I’m happy now. Who cares what happens next.

Full circle moment

I have a friend who I’ve … kind of avoided ever since I became single. Not because of anything she did, but mostly because I look at her and see her live a life I wanted for myself. And I was envious. Not in an “I hope she loses it” kind of way, but more “do I not deserve it as much as she does?”. So I laid low and kind of just avoided seeing her because it kicks off this feeling of being sad for myself and then being guilty for using her life to feed my own pity party when she’s just living her own life that has absolutely nothing to do with me.

Yes, it was a weird time for my mental health. And so, in order to not get triggered, I just avoided her the same way I avoided the pandemic.

M was born on the same year I was. We have similar degrees and even ended up having the same job (which is how we met). She got together with her husband in the same year I started my previous relationship. She got married to a wonderful supportive husband (I third-wheeld a lot lol) and had cute kids. And yet, she still had the time and energy to pursue things she was passionate about. They travelled together and built a life together.

While our life trajectories were eerily similar, clearly, our life paths were not meant to be a parallel of each other. I know, I know. I’m romanticizing her life and all I see is the surface level.

But on the same month that I found out that my most recent ex had fully moved on (back in 2021!) and is in a new relationship (via an instagram story reshared by another candle brand of all places – because I went no contact the moment we broke up and told all my friends that unless it’s life or death, I never want to hear any news about him).. M gave me the honor to be one of her son’s godmothers.

To say that it was jarring is an understatement. It’s been two years – in fact, that’s such a long time. Long enough to feel that I’ve completely moved on. I don’t have ill wills for my ex, and would always wish him to be in a relationship he deserved. But it was hard not to feel stuck and resentful about how life has turned out for me.

I wanted a house with a garden. The dogs. The cute kids. The husband who will let her wife’s single friend third wheel happily and treat her as one of his kids (lol).

And while I know that logically, no two people can live the same life, but for a very long time, I had found it hard to not feel sad when I look at them and look at where I am. It was like looking at all my hopes and dreams and knowing it can happen for someone. But it did not happen for me.

When M reached out last month to ask if we can share a booth at a bazaar, I had to brace myself to feel lonely. Or defeated. Because I knew deep down that I would be spending lots of time with them again. And I would probably have a hard time getting out of that funk. Once again, I would beat myself up, wondering what was wrong with me for someone to be with me for a long time, and never truly see me as a life partner.

But today I received a message from her husband, with detailed instructions on how he helped her automate and digitize her shop because in his words “yan lang kasi yung macontribute ko para padaliin yung buhay nya”. And he wanted to make sure I’d have access to it too because that’s the kind of people and friends they both are to me.

And all I felt was genuine happiness for M.

While I don’t have a husband. Or the kids. Or the house with a garden. I have people in my life who feel the same way about me – in the form of my sister, my brother, my friends. It took a while for me to come around, that this is enough. My cup is full.

Start of The Era’s Tour

I don’t like tiktok lives. I don’t watch anything beyond 3 hours. But I’ve spent 6 hours total this weekend on laggy tiktok lives to watch the first 2 nights of Taylor’s tour.

Honestly, it’s weird to still be a fan now because I feel like I’ve shed off a lot of the things that 15-year old me used to have. And yet, I’m almost 32 and her discography is still the soundtrack of my life. I always remember where I was whenever any of her albums dropped since 2007 (when I became a fan) and the moments of my life I’ve associated to her songs.

When I meet new people, I try not to scare them about how excited I could get about anything. For years, I was told by someone who claimed to love me that my excitement was overbearing. It’s weird now how a lot of my friends (one time, even my sister) like to say that they like seeing me excited. My eyes light up and I just start glowing. Little by little, I’m re-learning how to be excited again and to not minimize who I am because someone doesn’t know how to handle me. It’s pretty nice to be out here and not having to care whether someone thinks what I do is overzealous.

I don’t remember the point I was trying to make. But it kinda feels full circle to have affinity for Taylor Swift when I had innocent excitement … and be closer to the optimism I once had back then now that she’s rerecording. Life is life.

Kabe Koji live action musings & how my platonic relationships have made me feel so much better than any romantic one ever did

I’ve been watching the live action version of Kabe Koji Nekoyashiki-kun with my brother. Within the first few minutes of the pilot episode, a grand gesture was made by one of the leads and I turned to Tristan and said “gusto ko din niyan”. To which he replied, “ate, lowkey version naman niyan yung ginagawa ng friends mo”.

And you know what. He’s right.

Last night, I saw someone’s post on tiktok about how she has always downplayed something she was passionate about to her family because deep down, she did not want to be disappointed. But when she leaned in to vulnerability and let her aging parents know that she had an event, they traveled hours and walked 14 blocks (!!!) just to come and show their support.

I have not been in any romantic relationships since 2019 nor have I met anyone that made me have the inclination to be in one. While I know my ex loved me in his own way, it still was in a way that has turned me wary and jaded over time. Because if this is how romantic love is supposed to go and this is the best I’ve had so far, then why was it so painful and hard?

But then I guess for a long time, given the fact that I had someone who made an official commitment to love me, I had expectations to feel safe and secure with them.

With platonic relationships, these are things no one promises you. None of what they do for you is an obligation. They simply want to out of sheer affection and genuine support.

For a long time, I’ve only given romantic partners the opportunity to show up and be their true authentic self to me (and vice versa). And I always end up in a place of disappointment. But all my important platonic relationships with any significant depth – they just do.

My family scored zero in words of affirmation. Unlike any other romantic entanglement I’ve had, you would never hear anyone say they love you or any other words of affection. But I used to have some of my work published, and in an old envelope hidden in a kitchen cabinet, cutouts of it were kept by my mom for years. My brother lets me holiday in peace by taking over my other work. My sister is currently learning how to drive (unrelated side note: my first car is gonna be so beat up from the both of us being anxious newbie drivers lol) and has mentioned one time that she wishes she never sees any of the dudes that hurt me because she might just run them over. My friends have made sure I never felt left out of any holiday, I’ve even gotten more presents now than when I was single. I don’t miss out on any bougie dates. I’ve traveled to more places with friends in the past 4 years (nag pandemic pa sa lagay na to sis) of being single than the entirety of my decade-long relationship. I had been having breakdowns over one of my brand’s events being unsuccessful given that it was outdoors during typhoon season AND my friends made sure my booth was manned and I was kept fed throughout the entire duration of it.

It almost feels like a travesty and an insult to everyone who loves me to be in a romantic relationship with anyone that can’t even match the love and peace I get from my platonic relationships.

I still find it weird to look at my life and think it’s beautiful and to have a heart that’s so full. I feel overwhelmed by it.

Bali 2023 || I almost died today (literally, not clickbait)

I can’t sleep. I’m terrified I won’t open my eyes if I close them and that my epitaph will be inscribed with August 1991 – February 16, 2023.

Bali is not where I want to or plan on dying.

Today started out fine, although I was dead (lol) tired from last night’s shenanigans with Flora. I woke up later than usual which was expected, and I went straight to work in my hotel room (too late to shower and head to a cafe). Around noon (and after all my morning meetings), I finally was in dire need of some caffeine so off I went to The Slow. I always see it and the aesthetic fits how I want my dream home to look like (tropical concrete!).

I had a cup of coffee and some tuna which was medium rare and simply seared on the outside. The food was okay. It wasn’t mind blowing but was not horrible. And if I didn’t almost die today, it would probably be forgettable. However, their wifi connection was non-conducive for my workcation so I eventually left for Zin Cafe.

Zin Cafe’s servings (and service) is A+. Plus, their wifi is GREAT. It’s almost a coworking space at this point. Everyone upstairs of the cafe were working. I ordered another tuna dish and soda, and went on with working.

A few bites in, my lips started to itch. I even messaged Kara about it and told her if “it’s the chili or I’m having crazy allergies”. I have zero known allergies and have never really suffered from any allergic reaction, sans that one time I got urticaria for a few months after a bowl of seafood ramen. Granted, I blamed that on the stress and anxiety of going through biopsy (and the month I had to wait to find out if I had a tumor in my neck) for what ended up as a simple infection.

I had been eating seafood almost exclusively when I got to Bali because I really do enjoy it. But then in the middle of the meal, I just felt … strange. It was a weird feeling that I couldn’t pinpoint. In 15 mins after finishing that meal, I had paid the bill and started heading back to my hotel.

My heart was beating so fast when I got to my hotel room, and I gaslit myself into thinking that that’s due to walking outside and climbing up the stairs to my room. I took some more work calls before setting my alarm for 15 mins so I can take a nap. Maybe I was just too tired from drinking last night.

I regulated my breathing but my heart beat did not slow down. At all. In fact, it seemed to beat louder and harder, that I was feeling it throughout my entire body. I stood up to go to the toilet and when I passed the mirror, I saw my bloodshot eyes. My face was red. My skin was red. And I immediately knew, I needed medical attention.

I headed downstairs to the reception and when Nini (staff who mans the lobby) saw me, she immediately stood up to ask if I needed help. She helped call me a bike and called the emergency room with my details. When I finally got to the emergency room, they were ready and waiting for me. Everything happened so fast. The alarm I set for my 15-minute nap rang while I was in the emergency room.

When I lied down on the bed, they were checking my vitals and the doctor kept asking me if I can still breathe. I said I can, but my head was also starting to hurt and there seems to be pressure building up in between my eyebrows. My body started shaking uncontrollably at this point. They were quickly trying to find a vein which was an issue, given how inflamed my skin was. In total, I have had 6-7 unsuccessful needle insertions. The medical team asked if it would be okay if they inject via the vein in my foot (the only veins that were clearly visible were on my feet because it wasn’t inflamed enough) BUT that it would hurt so much more. I could feel my chest tightening and was having a harder time breathing that I readily agreed to wherever they can stick that needle in.

At this point, I had already started crying. The thoughts that I kept trying to fight off my mind was 1 – oh god I’ll never see Rox (my dog) ever again and she’ll think that after 13 yrs, I abandoned her; and 2 – of all places, Bali, really??? Thought #1 was making me panic and I had to consciously lead my mind to more positive thoughts – such as the fact that I have travel insurance (thanks to that tiktok of a girl who got into an accident while cliff diving abroad so she needed insurance to cover her trip back to her home country) and global healthcare (thanks to my current job), so I knew that whatever happens to me, my family will not have to drain their life’s savings for me.

Luckily, they managed to connect to a vein in my left hand and they were able to inject me with something and connect me to a dextrose. The doctor did say that the meds will make me drowsy and I soon slept in the emergency room for a few hours. When they woke me up and checked my stats, it was already so much better and I was cleared to be discharged. That was also when I found out that when I came in, my (clearly resting) heart rate was at 150bpm (too fast for a resting heart rate) and that my oxygen had dropped to below 80 (normal is at 100). The doctor was even asking why it took me so long to seek medical help, to which I said that I genuinely thought that it was simple exhaustion.

I went back to the hotel and did a video call with my family. I asked to see Rox and I think that was when it hit me, and I just started ugly crying. Bawling. Full on. Honestly, it’s been the most terrifying thing I’ve ever experienced while traveling alone.

I don’t think I’ll travel alone anytime soon because this was such an experience.

January is truly the longest month of the year

Life lately has been weirdly peaceful that I have to consciously make an effort not to be anxious that life seems uneventful.

This past month, I’ve just been busy with product development, job interviews (not really in a hurry to leave my current job – my salary can still sustain my lifestyle but there’s this fear that with the rapid inflation, I might have a harder time in the future. So this is a preemptive move to help with my anxiety), and reading a shit ton of fantasy novels. An excellent sign that it’s honestly terrifying to realize that I’m not so unhappy anymore lol.

I started on my romantic/slice-of-life novel binge back in December 2017 (when I found out about things that were happening behind my back) has happened and when a similar occurrence happened again in the middle of 2018. I kind of just never stopped until early last year. This genre is my comfort read. I read it while I stayed with my mom in the hospital. I read it after she died. And I genuinely just stay away from novels I usually enjoy (tragedy, mystery, thriller, fantasy etc) because my form of escapism is into fluff novels where the main lead is pursued by a love interest with only pure intentions. Where every single hurt and disappointment eventually leads to a life that’s quiet and happy.

Most of my weekends are booked with dates in fine dining restaurants with my friends (I know!!! My my we’ve turned bougie), and I have to make sure that my calendar is always updated so I don’t miss anything. And I guess being busy with my career, my business, and re-learning how to drive helps. Although my driving anxiety is still very much present. I would hate to make a dent in my brand new car hahahahuhu *cries in potential car damage*.

I’ll be working from Bali for a few weeks next month. I’ve been busy keeping the shop stocked and training my brother to fulfill orders in my stead.

It’s just been a weird time that I cherish because my life has always felt like something I want to leave. But I haven’t felt that in a long time. Honestly baffling.

Life Lately || 2022 Realizations

I need to give life the opportunity to surprise me.

I think that’s really it.

This year, I said yes to so many things I normally would say no to. Out of insecurity or fear or simply not believing that it was something that was meant for me. And oh my goodness, the places all those yes’s took me were adventures I never would have imagined for myself.

Admittedly, I’ve always felt lost and out of control whenever the plans were not in my hands. Like my sister would say, I’m the type of person who likes having things done my way which can bring a shitty amount of pressure to the people who are afraid to disappoint me. This is something my therapist likes to say, “you can let go, it’s not your job to make sure everything goes well for everyone in your life”.

But when I started learning where my boundaries are and simply leaving it up to people how to treat me as long as they don’t cross me, I now know just how loved I am. And weirdly enough, it’s one of those things I found surprising.

Everyone has rallied behind me with whatever I do and make out of life. For most of the past few years, I’ve always felt alone and isolated. I’m so attached to my pseudo-independence that I never really gave anyone the chance to support me.

The moment I let them though, they did. They didn’t just show up for me. They came full force in blinding light. And I was enveloped by its vibrance that I started glowing too.

While I’ve always known that I was loved and that I had friends, I was also a serial monogamist. And a lot of my self-esteem came from knowing there was one person in the world that was meant for me, knew who I am, and loved me for it. The longer I was being unfulfilled by it and when I was single and not dating (by choice), the more it dropped.

This year, I let life surprise me. And it was such a pleasant surprise to be loved in a way that didn’t feel like it was done out of obligation or that I had to beg for it. It was the kind of love that was given to me freely and wholeheartedly that I sometimes cry when I think about it. And it’s such a good feeling. I want to hold on to it for as long as I could.

Life Lately || Working holidays

Short update but honestly, I’d just like to apologize to the dudes who built their own businesses from the ground up that I dated and gave me the ick because they were working while we were out and about. I’ve always found it iffy to be giving someone my undivided attention while I didn’t get theirs. But I get it now.

When you build something yourself, you tend to it constantly. There’s a struggle there and the drive to bring it wherever you want it to go. It wasn’t just handed to you, it’s something you have to work on. It’s not all about the money (although admittedly, I’d be a few hundred thousand richer if I didn’t pursue this brand lol). There’s pride, there’s ego, and just about a shit ton of nuances attached to it. I have zero financial support from my family, didn’t grow up with an entrepreneurial mindset, and never really thought I’d own something. Everything I do and improve on, I learned from experience. It’s terrifying to be in this position and I always feel like I’m scrambling to make sure I stay on top of everything.

I’m someone who never saw herself working while I’m on holiday. I’ve always had clear boundaries with my corporate job. I’m only available for the 8 hours a day they pay me for. Otherwise, they can expect me to respond on the next business day. I never really considered work for sad girl scents as actual work.. so I guess that’s why my family was surprised I had been working throughout the holidays because there’s just so much to do, and so many suppliers to talk to. Even my sister stumbled upon me on my PC early this morning and asked “why are you working???” lol.

Sometimes, who I am now is a surprise even to me. My 2019 self would be shocked at how I’ve turned out.

Life Lately || End of year productivity

Been quite busy with work as both projects I’m working on at my day job are trying to tie up as many loose ends as possible before the office shutdown (which is literally just a week and I’ve had longer vacations than that so I don’t really see the fuss lol).

I’m usually fueled by strong emotions whenever I’m creating anything new for sad girl scents.. but for some reason, I’ve been feeling calm and stable recently so I don’t know where this sudden burst of productivity is coming from. It must be from doing all the site’s technical updates and the holiday rush, that in a week, I’ve managed to get the ball rolling on two new additions to the product lineup that we’re releasing next year.

I mean I hope this is what this means and not that I’m sad. Because I really don’t feel like it but now I’m second-guessing if there’s a feeling I’m working through because I’ve ticked so many things off my long list of things to do.

Product #1 – my custom vessel supplier is already working on my bulk order. My box supplier is doing the same (thanks to the vessel supplier who sent over samples directly to the box supplier FOR FREE because I’d like to think I’m his favorite client lol). Printing Supplier 2 (Printing Supplier 1 is one of my fave girls, and at this point, consider her part of the team behind the brand already … but she’s swamped right now) is waiting for confirmation while I check the smaller labels’ dimensions and give a go ahead. But once all this is done, I already have the formula and I basically just need to do all the pouring. Aaa can everything just come sooner.

Product #2 – my vessel supplier has already started the import (well, for them it’s export) process for me to get my vessels. My box supplier is still waiting on the sample box before proceeding. I’m perfecting the formulation on this one so this will not be released anytime soon. But my amazing illustrator (Louise Ramos) is already working on the art for the label and the art for …

Collection #6 – can you believe I’ve released 30+ scents at this point??? My weird fascination with candles and fine fragrances has turned into this weird huge chunk of my life (and personality).

Everyone in my life has told me at one point within this past year that it’s nice to see the sparkle back in my eyes. Seems like they’ve all noticed my eyes dull over time. One of my friends said that she missed seeing me excited over anything after watching my excitement deteriorate over the past decade and having to listen to me apologize for my excitement every single time. It’s weird because I never realized that people notice these small things. But as it turns out, the people who care about you do. Huh. Something to tell my therapist when we meet in a few days. During the bazaar, my sister mentioned offhandedly that she likes it when I talk about the brand to strangers because “you start glowing, and you looked so much like how I remember you when you were so much younger”. I guess it’s never too late to discover the parts of myself I thought I’d lost. What a year. What a time.

Life Lately || The idea of forever commitment

My mom was in the hospital and needed blood transfusions from time to time. Because our blood types didn’t match, I donated blood to offset all the blood she was getting from family friends, and strangers. One of the things on the checklist was no one with tattoos was allowed to donate, so while I didn’t have strong feelings about getting/not getting one, I went on with my life thinking I’ll probably never get around to having anything permanent done on my body.

I just secured a slot for my third tattoo. Tomorrow. Lol. I asked for a quote for a design I wanted to get and they had a free slot. So here we are.

I’ve thought long and hard about what I want permanently inked to my body. The idea of permanence is terrifying to me. I wasn’t this way before because life has always been stable. I’ve always had a support system (my mom). Always had a job. For the longest time, thought I’d already found a life partner at 17. But life has changed in so many ways that when I see old photos of myself (and some as recent as 2019), I don’t even recognize who she was. For a long time, I felt at a loss for what to do next. I’m a planner. Having a plan gives me peace and helps me manage my anxiety. For the past few years, I’ve simply been letting the current take me to wherever it flowed. While I seem overproductive to some (I’ve released so many things the past few years, it’s insane), it also felt natural and that I wasn’t forcing anything. I’ve always felt that I had to push or strong-arm my way into getting what I wanted – whether it was my relationship, my career, or whatever it is that I was doing. And whenever I got what I wanted, I always wondered whether it was worth it. Was planning this entire trip with a partner worth the stress and the budding resentment of feeling like I had to manage everything? Was climbing the corporate ladder worth the stress and the late nights and unpaid overtimes? Was writing/talking about all the vulnerable bits and pieces of my life so that hundreds of people feel like they relate to it and support a brand I’ve built from scratch worth losing the privacy to my own grief?

To be at peace with where I am and who I am and what I’m doing. I guess I just haven’t felt that for such a long time.. or ever. While it’s not a feeling that I constantly have or acknowledge, it’s still a headspace I’ve had multiple times throughout the year. And it’s such a pleasant surprise for me to know that I am capable of ever feeling this way.

I like having my tattoos on parts of my body that people can’t casually see (lol it’s on my rib cage area and I don’t share the photos online). Because I feel like with the brand, the blog, and to a lot of people – I’ve already shown so much of myself, my pain, and a lot of the little things that make me who I am. I’ve only always wanted to get happy things inked into me. I never want to look at a piece of my body and think of something I’ve had to overcome or go through or survive from. I want it to be a reminder of those fleeting moments of peace and quiet happiness that I never thought I’d have. So that when I look at myself in the mirror, I have those moments of gratitude etched into me. I want my body to be a mosaic of everything good, of everything that has made me feel loved, and everything I have to be thankful for. And three tatts – I have so so much to be happy about and thankful for.